VE Day 75 and the RAOC

Philip Hamlyn Williams blog

Bill Williams’s Victory message paid particular tribute to the non-regular officers, women of the ATS and civilians who worked so hard and well with regular officers and men. He welcomed the even closer links welded with the Ordnance Corps of the British Empire: India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. He ended by encouraging renewed efforts for the war against Japan. The QMG added, ‘‘never before had British Armies been so adequately maintained under such difficult and varied conditions’

Five months earlier, Bill had written this in his Christmas message to the men and women of the RAOC and ATS:

1944 will be recorded in history as a year of wonderful achievement. Our heroic invasion army, this time last year, scattered throughout Great Britain and the Mediterranean is now battering its way through the last line of defence to the Ruhr and Germany itself. The gallant Eighth Army has…

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Central Districts Vehicle Depot

The RNZAOC established Vehicle Depots in 1948 when the RNZAOC absorbed the stockholding responsibilities of the wartime Mechanical Transport Branch(MT Branch). Three Vehicle Depots were established as standalone Ordnance units, separate of the regional Ammunition and Ordnance depots;

  • Northern Districts Vehicle Depot (NDVD), at Sylvia Park, Auckland,
  • Central Districts Vehicle Depot (CDVD), Trentham Camp,
  • Southern Vehicle Depot (SDVD), Burnham Camp.

The role of the Vehicle Depot was to manage;

  • a fleet of a “CL” and “GS” vehicles for use during training periods and Annual Camps,
  • a pool of “CL” vehicles for admin use, new vehicles pending distribution,
  • and BER/BLR vehicles pending repair of disposal.

A typical RNZAOC Vehicle Depot consisted of:

  • A Vehicle Park,
  • A Kit Kit Store, and at times
  • an RNZEME Maintenance Section.

Having the CDVD Located at Trentham was not the ideal location as Linton and Waiouru housed the bulk of its customer units. The movement of vehicles and personal between these locations to uplift and return vehicles from the CDVD pool was time-consuming and a significant administrative effort. Therefore in 1957, the decision was made to relocate the CDVD to Linton by the end of 1958.

The move to Linton would see the CDVD relocated to the Battalion Block between the ASC Supply and Transport unit by the Linton railhead and the Central Districts Ordnance Depot (CDOD) in the North West of Linton Camp. Occupying purpose-built facilities ad Dante Road at Trentham, the move of the CDVD would see the construction of storage sheds, complete with servicing pits and a headquarters building at Linton to complement the existing WW2 Era buildings.

Not all the CDVD functions would be relocated to Linton. The Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) would establish a Vehicle Sub Depot with responsibility for;

  • The receipt, processing and issue of all new vehicles,
  • Custody of vehicles considered part of the Army reserve
  • Custody and disposal of surplus vehicles held by CDVD that were declared or about to be declared for disposal.

The CDVD remained a standalone Ordnance unit until 1961 when it became a sub-unit of the Central DIstricts Ordnance Depot.

Selection of Vehicles held by CDVD Linton1957-61

The following photos illustrate a variety of WW2 Era vehicles held by the CDVD at around 1957-61. These could be pool vehicles for the Central Districts, or as the NZ Army was introducing into service the RL Bedford and Series 2 Landrover, these could be vehicles for disposal.

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck

DoF5515a

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

D0F5515b

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5515c

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

 

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck (Binned Stores)

DoF5589a

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5589c

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5589b

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

 

CMP Ford GS 4 X4

 

DoF5633A

3/4 front view of NZ Army Ford truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5633b

Side view of CMP Ford GS 4 X4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5633c

Rearview  CMP Ford GS 4 X4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

CMP Chevrolet GS 4×4

DoF5514a

3/4 front view CMP Chevrolet GS 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

DoF5514b

Rearview CMP Chevrolet GS 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

DoF5514c

Side view of CMP Chevrolet GS 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

CMP Chevrolet 4×4

DoF5588a

3/4 front view of CMP Chevrolet 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

DoF5588b

Side view of CMP Chevrolet 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

DoF5588c

Rearview of CMP Chevrolet 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

CMP Chevrolet 15-cwt

D0F5604b

CMP Chevrolet 15-cwt. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5604a

CMP Chevrolet 15-cwt. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

CMP Chevrolet 3 -ton 4 x 4 Wrecker

DoF5582c

CMP Chevrolet 3 -ton 4 x 4 Wrecker. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5582b

CMP Chevrolet 3 -ton 4 x 4 Wrecker. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5582a

CMP Chevrolet 3 -ton 4 x 4 Wrecker. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

AEC MATADOR

DoF5580b

Side view of NZ Army AEC Matador. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5580a

Side view of NZ Army AEC Matador. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

Ambulances

DoF5584b

Side view of Ford V8 ambulance. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5537c

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5537b

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5537a

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

 

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Linton Camp, March 1962

CDVD Legacy

As the NZ Army vehicle fleets changed the need for dedicated Vehicle Sections decreased, with the vehicle sections within the RNZAOC Supply Companys shadows of the Vehicle Depots of the 50’ and ’60s.

In the modern New Zeland Army, the concept of managing vehicles in pools was reinvented in 2011 with the creation of the Managed Fleet Utilisation (MFU) programme. The MFU programme was several equipment fleets managed as a loan pool on behalf of the New Zealand Defence  Force by a civilian contractor.

In 2020 the same WW2 Era buildings alongside the building erected in 1958  thas served the CDVD in 1958 are still utilised by the MFU and the legacy RNZALR Supply Company.

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Storage sheds built for the CDVD in 1958, the middle shed is an extension added in the late 1990s. Robert Mckie Collection

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WW2 Era buildings on the edge of what was the CDVD Vehicle Block. Robert McKie Collection

 

 

 


Memories of Service – Ron Cross

Memories of Service

 

Lieutenant Colonel Ron Cross is a military man through and through, A Regular Force Cadet, Artilleryman, Infantryman, a Graduate of the Officer Cadet School, Portsea and RNZAOC Officer, including a stint as Chief instructor of the Ordnance School from November 1972 to August 1974 and Officer Commanding of the NZAOD from April 1976 to May 1978, Ron is a  proud soldier.

In this Memories of Service video produced by the New Zealand Returned Services Associaton.  Ron recounts the experiences that shaped his life. Joining up as a regular Army Cadet, Ron served in both the Malayan conflict and the Vietnam War. From the comedy of preparing for jungle warfare in snow-covered hills around Tekapo to the tension of being fired on at close range on the roads of Vietnam, Ron’s vivid recollections are captivating.

Click on the attached link to view the video:

https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/memories-of-service-ron-cross-2017


Ordnance Cricket Team 1934/35

Sport within the military is promoted as a method of sustaining morale, encouraging fitness and keeping troops occupied and out of trouble. During the 1930s, when the world was in the depths of the great depression, sport became a useful distraction for the staff of the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham Camp. Sport also became a useful tool for developing leadership and teamwork and as a way of contributing to the local communities that the  MOD belonged too. Using the team photo of the 1934/35 Ordnance Cricket team, this article will examine the NZAOC participation in sport as a member of the community and look at the stories of the men in the photo.

As the anchor unit at Trentham Camp, the staff of the MOD would be active participants in the sporting life of Upper Hutt and the wider Wellington Region. The Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) Major T.J King, a keen sportsman was very active in sports administration as a member of the Wellington Rugby Union and New Zealand Rugby Union. Most sporting codes in Upper Hutt would have their membership boosted by the staff of the MOD, who in an individual capacity contributed as players, coaches and administrators.

An example of the MODs participation in Upper Hutt sport is with the participation of the Ordnance Cricket Team in the Upper Hutt Cricket Association competition from 1933 to 1939. With the cricket season running from October to April, the Upper Hutt Cricket Association competition consisted of average participation of six teams per season, playing at Maidstone Park on Saturdays and Sundays. The anchor teams that would participate throughout the competition were Upper Hutt, Trentham and Ordnance.

Upper Hutt Teams

The onset of war in 1939, would lead to the end of the Upper Hutt Cricket Association, with many of the participating clubs absorbed into the Hutt Cricket Association and participation in local sports competitions by the MOD went into abeyance for the duration of the war. The MOD would not provide teams and re-join the local competitions until 1950.

The photo of the 1934/35 Ordnance Cricket team is one of the few remaining relics of that period and provided a snapshot to the Ordnance Team of 1934/35. They are posing before or after a match at Maidstone Park the eleven members of the team are in their Cricket Whites with blue caps emblazoned with an Ordnance Badge.

ord-cricket-team

Based on available information, the team from left to right are:

Back Row

George Leslie

Date of Birth: 29 April 1891 – George Leslie has served for two years as an Infantryman during the First World War. Wounded in action in 1917, Leslie was repatriated to New Zealand to recover from his wounds. On 1 November 1919 Leslie enrolled into the Dental Detachment of the Temporary Employment Section (TES). On 1 January 1920 was appointed as a temporary member of the New Zealand Army Medical Corps (NZAMC) at the Army Medical Stores at Wellington. On 9 June 1924, Leslie was sent to Trentham Camp to unpack the Divisional Medical Equipment received from England at the end of the war. With the closure of the Medical Stores in Wellington, the stocks at Trentham would become the medical stocks for New Zealand’s Military Forces, with Leslie appointed the NCO In Charge (NCOIC).

Appointed to the NZAMC (Permanent) on 19 April 1925, Leslie would remain with the MOD as the NCOIC Medical Stores until 1940 when responsibility for Army Medical Stores was Transferred from the NZAOC in November 1940 to the New Zealand Medical Corps(NZMC), and the Medical Stores at Trentham relocated to 42 Victoria Street in Wellington. Responsibility for Medical Stores would return to the Chief Ordnance Officer on 1 April 1947.

April 1942 saw Leslie promoted to Warrant Officer Class Two and transferred to the Advanced Depot Medical Stores at Palmerston North as the SNCO in charge. The Advanced Depot Medical Stores closed in 1944 and Leslie was placed under the strength of No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot at the Palmerston North Showground’s, supernumerary to that unit’s establishment. Promoted to Warrant Officer Class One in April 1945, Leslie transferred back to the MOD in Trentham in July 1947, taking his discharge in February 1948.

David Brown

No information other than he was employed as a civilian in the MOD.

E Hughes

Hughes was a soldier at the MOD until 1931 when his position was civilianised, and he was transferred into the Civil Service.

Lionel Herbert Stroud

Date of Birth: July 1902 – Lionel Herbert Stroud enlisted into the NZAOC as a Soldier at the MOD on 21 October 1928. Like most NZAOC Solders his position was civilianised in January 1931, and he was transferred into the Civil Service doing the same job but at much a much-reduced rate of pay. By 1935 Stroud had been reinstated as a soldier at continued to serve at the MOD.

 In 1939 Stroud was transferred into the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) as a Warrant Officer Class One. During his time in the 2nd NZEF Stroud would serve in Egypt and England helping to establish the Ordnance systems required to support the NZEF, and for his efforts, commissioned as an officer. Returned to New Zealand and posted out of the 2nd NZEF in February 1943, Stroud was commissioned into the New Zealand Temporary Staff (NZTS) as a captain and would serve in a variety of Ordnance roles for the remainder of the war. In 1947 Stroud was transferred from the NZTS into the NZAOC as a Captain and Quartermaster (Temporary Major and Quartermaster). For the remainder of his military career, Stroud would serve at the MOD and as the Officer Commanding of No2 Ordnance Depot at Linton. By 1954 Stroud had retired from the Army and took a new career as a wine merchant.

James Danby

Date of Birth: 17 Feb 1909 – James Danby joined the NZAOC in the early 1930s as an instrument repairer. A keen sportsman who in addition to playing Cricket for the Ordnance Team was also a coach/player for the Upper Hutt Rugby Team. During World War Two Danby was commissioned as an Officer in January 1943. Serving with the Divisional Workshops with the NZEF in the Pacific (NZEFIP) Danby would also run the sports committee.

After the war, Danby would remain in the Army as an officer in the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME) at Trentham.

Front Row

Edward Gavin Lake

Date of Birth: September 1907 – Edward Gavin Lake worked as a fruiter/storeman and would serve as an Infantryman during the war.

John Keep Wilson

Date of Birth: Jan 1888 – John Keep Wilson had been a long-term employee of the Defence Department and serving as a soldier in the NZAOC until 1931 when he was transferred into the Civil Service. Reinstated as a soldier by 1935, Wilson would remain at the MOD until his retirement in 1947.

Kevin Graham Keith Cropp

Date of Birth: 1916 – Kevin Graham Keith Cropp was a clerk in the MOD. He was appointed as a Warrant Officer Class One into the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in 1939 where he embarked with the 1st Echelon. 1941 saw Cropp Commissioned as an officer into the Artillery.

Allen Dudley Leighton

Date of Birth: 20 September 1898 – Allen Dudley Leighton had served with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade in the First World War. Joining the NZAOC Permanent Staff on 17 March 1925 and would be a Lance Corporal at the MOD when he was transferred to the Civil Staff on 31 January 1931. Remaining at the MOD as a civilian clerk, Leighton was appointed as the Ordnance Officer (Provision) and commissioned into the NZTS as a Lieutenant on 2 December 1939. He was promoted to Captain on 14 October 1940 and Temporary Major on 1 February 1942. Leighton assumed the appointment of Ordnance Officer Commanding and Accounting Officer of the MOD on 30 September 1946 with the rank of Major and Quartermaster. Leighton would remain the Ordnance Officer Commanding MOD until 31 March 1951 when he proceeded onto retiring leave. Recalled from his retiring leave 55 days later Leighton would eventually retire on 20 September 1954.

Charles Fred Ecob

Date of Birth: 1908 – Charles Fred Ecob had emigrated to New Zealand as an Eighteen-year-old in 1926. Ecob was a civilian clerk at the MOD during the 1930s and would later be a soldier at the MOD until his retirement in the early 1950s.

Henry McKenzie Reid

Date of Birth: December 1910 – Henry McKenzie Reid was a civilian clerk at the MOD. Commissioned in 1940, Reid would serve as an Ordnance Officer with the 8 Brigade in Fiji. Reid would see further operational ordnance service with the NZEFIP in New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. Reid would remain in the NZAOC after the war with Reid becoming the Director of Ordnance Services from April 1957 to November 1960.

Most of these men would play for the Ordnance team all the way through to 1939, other men who appear in the records of the team at different times throughout this period are;

    • Ivan Douglas Allardyce
    • William Saul Keegan
    • James Dalton
    • Alan Hui Andrews
    • Hunter
    • Dudding
    • Abbot
    • Harrington

During the 1930s the MOD at Trentham was a significant contributor to the sporting community of Upper Hutt. At the individual level, men of the MOD were players, coaches and administrators for many of the sporting codes in Upper Hutt.  The MOD cricket team was an anchor team in the Upper Hutt Cricket association Cricket competition, providing a level of stability in uncertain times which contributed to the success of the competition. What is significant is that despite having no opportunity to exercise together as a unit in the inter-war years, when war came, the NZAOC had a cadre of potential leaders who had honed their skills on playing fields to help guide the NZAOC in its wartime expansion.

 

 

 

 

 


Conductors in the Crusades: An earlier Conductor reference!

Conductor Stories

We are often informed that ‘The Ancient and Honourable’ title of Conductor was first used in 1327 according to the Statute of Westminster of that date.

May I add something to this interesting debate?

The most popular of contemporary accounts of the First Crusade was the anonymous work known as the Gesta Francorum et Aliorum Hierosolimitorum. This account describes, inter alia, that the armies of the First Crusade under the Command of Bohemond I, of Taranto laid siege to Antioch in June 1098. Amongst the senior officers was Stephen Count of Blois. Stephen of Blois was married to Adela the daughter of William the Conqueror and was the father of Stephen 1st of England.

The Gesta Francorum (IX,27) , described Stephen of Blois as having been elected ‘ductor’ of the Army.

This certainly cannot mean that he was appointed Commander in Chief or political leader of the Crusade as he…

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Colourised Pictures

Until 22 April 2020, the genealogical website Myheritage.com  is providing free access to an application on their website which automatically colourises old photos.

The examples provided on this page have been processed through the application and the results are varied. Some of the images do look a little washed out, and some of the interpretation of the colours is a bit off with khaki processed as blue and details such as hat puggarees not coming out correctly. However considering that the processing is automatic with no human intervention, the results are not too bad with many of the photos brought to life with details previously unseen in the original highlighted.

 

 



WO1 David Andrew Orr, RNZAOC

Much of this article is published with the permission of the author of Service Lives Remembered, The Meritorious Service Medal in New Zealand and Its Recipients: 1895-1994, Howard (Clas) Chamberlain.Copyright Howard (Clas) Chamberlain

David Orr was born in Wellington on 13 January 1935 a son of John and Elizabeth Agnes Orr (nee Graham) who came from Ballymena and Randalstown, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Dave’s father was a policeman and at the time of Dave’s enlistment was stationed at Kaponga near Hawera. Dave shared his home life with two brothers and a sister and was educated at the Hawera Technical High School. He left after reaching Form Five to be employed as a concrete worker by Mr J.A. Stenning of Hawera. Dave was called up for service under the Compulsory Military Service scheme and after the initial training became a Territorial Force soldier. He reached the rank of Lance Corporal before joining the Regular Force. On 1 August 1957, Dave married Beverly Ann Barnett at Taumaranui. Dave would have three children, Gary John (b. 20 Jan 1958, Taumaranui), Susan Beverly (b. 22 Nov1959) and Debra Kay (b. 21 Feb 1961, Palmerston North).

1 Regt

Plaque of 1 Battalion the New Zealand Regiment. Robert McKie collection

Dave enlisted into the Regular Army in August 1957 and after a basic refresher training course, followed by advanced corps training at Waiouru was posted to the 1st Battalion, New Zealand Regiment. This Battalion was the replacement for the Special Air Service Squadron which had been in Malaya from 1955. The Battalion paraded through Wellington in November 1957 prior to its departure for Malaya. It was transported to Singapore on board the troopship TSS CAPTAIN COOK (which had been used for bringing migrants to New Zealand after WW2) arriving in December. On arrival in Malaya many of its personnel were sent just across the causeway from Singapore to Johore State for acclimatisation and jungle training mainly at the Jungle Warfare School at Kota Tingi. In March 1 NZ Regiment moved to Ipoh, and relieved the 1st Battalion the Royal Lincoln Regiment which had been on operations in North Malaya in the State of Perak.

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ANZAC Day Sobraon Camp 1958. Left to Right: Alkie McAlpine, Sam Peleti, Dave Orr, Bill Roden, Max Handley, Dave Wilson. 1Bn NZ Regiment Newsletter Nov 2011.

Dave was posted to active service as the Battalion was employed on counter-insurgency duties in an effort to round up remaining terrorists which were the hardcore members of the Malayan Communist Party. The Battalion was involved in deep jungle patrols of up to platoon size as the Emergency was still being fought. Apart from other duties, Dave was involved with setting up the Pipe Band of 1 NZ Regiment whilst in Malaya. (During this tour, while on patrol, one of the members of the band was hauled out of his bed in the jungle by a tiger and severely injured.) On 5 August 1959 Dave Orr emplaned on an RNZAF Hastings aircraft at Singapore and returned to New Zealand. For his service in Malaya Dave was awarded the General Service Medal 1918 clasp ‘Malaya’

RNZAOC GILT, annodised plain 1955-1996

Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1955-1996 badge Gilt, anodised plain. Robert McKie Collection

Dave Orr changed Corps to RNZAOC upon his return to New Zealand in 1959, became a Storeman/Clerk and was posted to Central District Ordnance Depot (CDOD), Linton, where he was also involved with forming the Linton Camp Pipe Band which now no longer exists. He was promoted Corporal during August 1962 and Sergeant during April 1967. He was next posted to Waiouru Sub-Depot of CDOD, promoted Staff Sergeant in 1967 and WO2 in 1970. WO2 Orr was posted back to Linton Camp in 1974 to 1 General Troops Workshops (RNZEME) stores section before returning to CDOD in 1975 when he was promoted WO1.

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RNZAOC Conductor Badge. Robert Mckie Collection

WO1 Orr was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (Military) on 1 August 1975. He was posted to Trentham Camp during 1977, firstly to 1 Base Ordnance Depot (later 1 Base Supply Battalion then 5 Logistics Regiment) then to the appointment of RSM, the RNZAOC School. He was later appointed a Conductor in the RNZAOC, a distinction much prized and not granted lightly within the RNZAOC. During 1977 he initiated the setting up of the RNZAOC Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ silver collection now valued at thousands of dollars.

While posted to the New Zeland Advanced Ordnance Depot in Singapore, WO1 Orr was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal on 29 April 1982

The citation for the Meritorious Service Medal reads in part as follows, “Warrant Officer Orr has given dedicated and reliable service not only to his Corps but also the Army as a whole. He has shown his ability to understand and communicate with soldiers at all levels and has portrayed an image of a “Soldier Friend”. Young soldiers find WO1 Orr easy to approach and always willing to help. In all his dealings WO1 Orr puts others needs before those of his own. His exceptional service and conduct were recognised in 1975 when he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Warrant Officer Orr has been actively involved in many activities including Chief Marshal, Napier Military Pageant, Directing Staff Wanganui Military Pageant, Palmerston North, New Plymouth and Hamilton Military Pageant, for which he has received noted commendations…

In recognition of an outstanding career WO1 Orr has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. This medal is only awarded to senior NCOS with at least 21 years service. Only 20 serving personnel may be awarded it at any one time and then only those soldiers who have performed good, faithful, valuable and meritorious service and possessed of an irreproachable conduct throughout the qualifying period. The Meritorious Service Medal admirably compliments his earlier award of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.”

Dave Orr 2

Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor) Dave Orr receiving his MSM from the Commander NZ Force SEA, Brigadier Burrows 1982. Joe Bolton Collection

Dave was actively involved with Camp and Corps sport during his career both as a player and administrator. Dave Orr retired from the Army in 1985 and was employed as the Property Officer (a civilian appointment) at Trentham Camp until his retirement.

Dave passed away on the morning of 26 March 2020 after a long illness.

 


Economic parallels of COVID-19 with 1914-18 and 1939-45

Philip Hamlyn Williams blog

A package equivalent to 15% of GDP, as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 17 March 2020, is of the magnitude of support for the war effort.

In 1914-18 there were still gold reserves, gold mined in Empire nations and investments overseas. One and a half centuries of industrial growth, during most of which Britain had been the workshop of the world, had built up substantial resources. Even in 1914, when Germany and the USA had caught up in terms of industrial production, British shipyards produced one third of the world’s ships and the cotton mills of Lancashire produced enough yarn and textiles to cloth half the world.[1] The war came at a great economic and well as human cost; some £11,325 million was spent, including loans to Russia which were never repaid. About one third was raised through taxation, £500 million from the sale of investments…

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Sergeant Two Bob and Corporal Jenny

24 February is the memorial day set aside as “Purple Poppy Day” the day on which we honour our war animals.

Complementing the traditional Red Poppy which is worn on ANZAC and Rembermanace day, the Purple Poppy symbolises all animals who have served during times of conflict.

Thousands of animals have provided support to New Zealand’s Forces, either as working animals or as mascots and providing companionship and comfort to service personnel.

One of the most famous animals in New Zeland Military History is Ceaser,, the bulldog who was awarded the Blue Cross Medal on 27 May 2019  for his service and bravery during the First World War.

caesar-anzac-dog-WW1-487-700x467

Portrait of ‘Caesar’ (misspelt as Ceaser) with ‘4th Battalion Mascot, NZ Rifle Brigade and ‘Oliver Varley, photo’ written on the photograph. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. WW1 487.

 

Sergeant Two Bob

Like many other units of the 2nd New Zealand Divison during the Second World War, the Divisional Ordnance Field Park (OFP) had its own mascot, a small dog. The dog had been purchased as a pup from a local vendor in Tripoli for two shillings and named “Sergeant Two Bob”.

The name “Sergeant Two Bob” was a play in on the slang of the time where Bob was the common term for a shilling, with twelve shillings making up a pound,  “Two Bob” equalled two shillings which at the time was a common lighthearted insult where one would essentially say that something was worthless, in this case, it was a term of affection for a unit mascot.

Records indicate that “Sergeant Two Bob” would move with the OFP from North Africa to Italy in early 1944 and remained a member of that until the end of the war.  As the NZ Division demobilised, New Zealand’s strict quarantine regulations forbade the return to New Zealand of  “Sergeant Two Bob”, and it is assumed that he was found a new home with some Italian owners.

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Harry Gilbertson of the New Zealand Divisional Ordnance Field Park with the section mascot “Sergeant Two Bob” at Maddi September 1943. Photo H.J Gilbertson

Corporal Jenny

“Sergeant Two Bob” was not the only Ordnance Mascot during the Second World War.  In the Pacific, Ordnance in the 3rd New Zealand Division adopted ‘Jenny the fawn’.

Orphaned as the result of a deer-hunting expedition, Jenny was hand-reared on a diet of powdered milk and guava leaves and soon promoted to the rank of substantive corporal.

Corporal Jenny’s duties included representing the Ordnance team at football matches, resplendent in its Khaki cover decorated in Ordnance colours and regulation corporal’s stripes.  Later Jenny’s appetite extended to include tea-leaves, the unit’s laundry and mail.  On the NZ Divisions departure from New Caledonia in 1944 Jenny was presented to a local family.

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Jenny the Fawn, 1943. War History Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library